TAP Coming to LADOT Bus Services
Friday I was riding on the DASH Fairfax route when I noticed it had a message printed on a paper bag sitting on the dashboard announcing that the Transit Access Pass (TAP) is coming to L.A. Dept. of Transportation (LADOT) bus services (DASH and Commuter Express) in June. The LADOT website also has a frequently asked questions page with information about the transition.
This is interesting on many levels. LADOT is the first new agency to commence accepting TAP in quite a while. When TAP was first introduced the pace of municipal agencies joining TAP was fairly brisk, only to slow down as problems cropped up and as Steve Hymon noted two years ago “Some muni bus services have been waiting to see how TAP works before adopting it.” This list includes Santa Monica Big Blue Bus, Long Beach Transit and Torrance Transit (a full list of the munis aka the included and eligible operators is included as part of the discussion of the formula allocation procedure by which federal, state and local operating funds are divided among transit agencies in Los Angeles County on the SO.CA.TA website.)
The main sticking point has been confidence in the process by which revenues are divided between Metro and the municipal (or lack thereof.) In the intervening period Metro has been working to fix TAP. But as my recent commentary noted several significant challenges remain for TAP including the impending spike in demand for cards that will be caused by the locking of the turnstiles at the Red/Purple Line stations, expanding outreach to seniors/disabled/students who are lagging in transitioning to TAP, informing the nearly 40% of Red and Purple Line cash customers not currently on TAP about the need to acquire cards and a solution for those using Metrolink fare media to continue to have seamless access to the Metro Rail system.
Having the munis adopting TAP is important given their growing role in the overall regional transit network, as noted in a recent Metro staff report [see Table 1 Change in Revenue Hours (1985-2010)]:
Beginning in 1985, with voter approved propositions, such as Propositions A and C and Measure R, local sales tax revenue has been allocated to municipal transit operators. As a result, municipal bus operations have expanded. Metro Bus hours increased 6% from 7.0 million in 1985 to 7.4 million in 2010 while Muni Operators increased over 200%, from 1.26 million to 3.8 million (Table 1). As a result, Metro Bus’ share of regional transit service hours decreased from 85% to 61% of the system while Muni operations grew from 15% to 31%. In addition, rail service, including Metro Rail and Metrolink, currently represent about 8% of the system (roughly 1 million revenue hours).
I’m sure the munis that have lagged in adopting TAP will be monitoring how the process goes for LADOT and that will impact their attitude about becoming part of it anytime soon. So a lot is riding on what LADOT’s experience with adopting TAP is — positive or a bumpy ride.